Learn About Ailments | Ligament Sprain

Ligament Sprain

Ligaments are bands of elastic tissue that hold joints together and limit movement. A ligament sprain occurs when a sudden event puts excessive stress on the tissue causing it to stretch or tear. A tear can be partial or complete at which point the joint becomes unstable. Symptoms of a sprain include swelling, tenderness and bruising. Stretching the injured ligament causes pain.
Ligament Sprain

In This Article
Causes Sprain Symptoms
Diagnosis Related Terms

Many ligament sprains and ligament tears occur as a result of physical activity and in particular sporting activities. Physical contact, sudden movement or poor posture and technique can result in a ligament injury.


Ligament sprains and ligament tears to the ankle for example are as a result of rolling over the outside of the foot. As the weight of the body places excessive downward pressure on the outer ligament, a sprain or tear can occur.


Falling or landing awkwardly can result in a ligament sprain or tear as can over-reaching for an object or a sudden change in direction. The chances of suffering a ligament sprain or ligament strain are increased by a number of factors.


These include:


Lack of condition - If you don't regularly exercise the joints and muscles they are likely to have poor flexibility and increase your chances of damaging the ligaments.


Bad technique - This is especially true with sport which requires good weight distribution during movement. However, walking, running and jumping with bad technique is likely to increase the risk of an injury.


Tiredness / Fatigue - Muscles that are weak or tired will not give the joints in the body proper support. Feeling tired will also affect co-ordination and judgement which increases the chances of stretching or over-reaching the joints.


Lack of pre-exercise routine - Before any form of physical activity, you should ensure the muscles are warmed up to increase the range of movement in the body and joints.

The immediate symptom of a ligament sprain or ligament tear is pain around the area affected. This will usually be followed by immediate swelling of the joint. Bruising may occur some time after the initial injury and may not always be directly over the affected area. The joint will feel tender to the touch and placing any weight on it will be difficult and painful. There may also be a lack of movement in the joint itself.


You should seek immediate medical help if:


You are unable to move the joint

It feels numb

The limb can't be supported

The limb looks crooked

Lumps appear (other than usual swelling) or the pain is severe.

A GP will be able to diagnose whether you have strained, sprained or torn a ligament by a physical examination of the area and the history of the injury. For severe injuries, the GP will assess range of movement, weight bearing and whether the ligament is loose or tight. This is often referred to as mechanical instability.


An X-ray is not usually required for ligament injuries however should you be over the age of 55 or if the injury is particularly severe or be a knee injury they may recommend an X-ray to properly assess the extent of the problem.

  • Ligamentous Injuries
  • Inversion Ankle Injury
  • Lateral Ligament Ankle Sprain
  • Talofibular Ligament Injury TLI
  • Anterior Talofibular Ligament Injury ATFL
  • Posterior Talofibular Ligament PTFL
  • ATFL Sprain
  • PTFL Sprain
  • Recurrent Sprain
  • Partial Tear
  • Macroscopic Tears
  • Complete Tear
  • Mechanical Instability
  • Significant Joint Instability
  • Moderate Joint Instability
  • Ankle Sprain

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